Coinciding with its 70th anniversary, the Association of Financial Advisers launched an initiative to encourage member engagement at the grassroots level.
New president Marc Bineham told Financial Standard the association has learned a lot of lessons from 2016 and wants to put the ongoing development of the association "back into the adviser's hands."
"The AFA has always been known for its strong culture and we don't want to lose any of that, so we've been building our various Communities of Practice up and implementing strategies and frameworks to ensure each of these communities and what they stand for is adviser-led," Bineham said.
This will transcend to the AFA event calendar for 2017, with Bineham saying the program for the upcoming Genxt Connect Tour has been largely designed by advisers and the same can be expected of the national roadshows mid-year and October's national adviser conference on the Gold Coast.
"We want to ensure that membership engagement at the grassroots level is not diminished and our culture that we have worked so hard on over the last 70 years is passed onto the next generation of advisers. That culture in the main has been advisers passing on their knowledge to new entrants coming through," Bineham said.
He said this, along with the development of a new code, is central to the AFA's continuing efforts in achieving professionalism for the financial advice industry.
"We will transition from an industry body to a professional body, but it is not simply about a new code - that's just one part of it. It's a whole different mindset and we need to bring the membership with us on the journey," Bineham said.
"Last year was very legislation-heavy and now that a great deal of that work has been done, we can commit greater focus to assisting our members with the implementation and transition stages. The AFA has never been more resourced, so we are well-equipped to deal with these legislative changes."
Bineham said the ultimate goal is for consumer confidence in the financial advice industry to be regained.
"We know existing clients are well served by their advisers and are their most trusted resource in most cases, but we also know with present negative sentiment from government, mainstream media and consumer groups, that we need legislative change like the Life Insurance Framework and professional standards reform to provide that shift in perception," he said.